Gas Busters Part 27: Scott Stinson in National Post Puts Together the Pieces

Stinson’s piece in the National Post today provides an excellent summary of recent findings and developments surrounding the Ontario gas plant cancelations. Stinson draws on important new material so far ignored by his competitors. His column is recommended reading.

The contrast between Stinson’s insights vs. Martin Regg Cohn’s apologetics for the Ontario Liberals in the Toronto Star yesterday is particularly glaring.

In contrast to Stinson’s review of relevant facts, Cohn’s column, “No inquiry needed to probe gas plant boondoggle“, is based on speculation. Cohn’s key claim is  “don’t expect a smoking gun” on either the government’s claim that the power plant cancelations will cost $230 million or that there was a government cover-up of information. Cohn is obviously not paying attention. Here is one of the smoking guns. It is internal communication from the Ontario Power Authority, released by PC MPP Rob Leone, documenting government orders to conceal information.

As for Cohn’s defence of the government’s claim that the cost of the cancelations is $230 million, we will soon have the Provincial Auditor’s report against which to measure Cohn’s research and analysis. I’m suggesting that the extra cost of the Mississauga power plant alone will come in around $430 million.

I posted a comment on Cohn’s column on the Toronto Star web site yesterday morning but the comment has yet to appear. 

Post Script: Feb. 27, 3:30 pm

I received an anonymous complaint about my gloss of Martin Regg Cohn’s column “No inquiry needed to probe gas plant boondoggle”.

The anonymous complainant draws attention to the following elements of Cohn’s column: “the opposition is right to demand answers”, “there are 107 MPPs at Queen’s Park who should be getting to the bottom of what really happened”, “nothing prevents the opposition from following through. They hold a majority in the legislature”, “dragging his feet on the release of documents. The public accounts committee can probe how and why the Liberals acquiesced to Nimbyism”, “the most focused answers will likely come from the independent auditor general, who is asking his own questions about the government’s claim that the cancellation will cost $230 million (plus or minus)”, and “Let the questioning begin”.

Cohn, as the Toronto Star’s political columnist at Queen’s Park, would be aware that the debate this week on how the legislature ought to address the gas plant cancelation issues focused on three inquiry proposals: the NDP’s proposal for a public inquiry, the PC’s proposal for a Select Committee and the PC’s promise that if elected they will call a judicial inquiry. The Wynne government is actively opposing all three of these proposals. The only fair way to read Cohn’s headline and the body of the piece is to see it as a direct defence of the government’s position on no new inquiries. (The existing Justice Committee is already addressing the document disclosure issue and the existing Public Accounts Committee may address gas plant issues also.)

On the question of whether Cohn’s column defends the government’s long-asserted claim that the full cost incurred by the gas plant moves is $230 million, consider Cohn’s statement: “(the auditor general) is asking his own questions about the government’s claim that the cancellation will cost $230 million (plus or minus). Just don’t expect a smoking gun”. I read the statement “Just don’t expect a smoking gun” as Cohn’s professional opinion that the cost of the cancelation cost will be approximately $230 million.

Post script: Feb 28, 2pm

Here is a previous review of Cohn’s writings on electricity where I found his contribution useful.



  1. Tom, link to Cohn’s article is not working. Correct link is below

    But the real issue is the future horrific cost, instability and inefficiency that the Liberal’s Green Energy Act has inflicted on Ontario’s power supply. See this article also from The Star

    Keep up the good work.

    • The fact that Eastern Power was awarded the contract without the ability to obtain competitive financing should trouble everyone. Worse still is the fact no one in the OPA or the government knew the terms of their financing obtained in May 2011 or what that would add to the cost of cancelling Greenfield South.
      It still is unclear to me how they qualified to bid in 2005, and why they were allowed to sign their deal with the devil in 2011. Incompetence seems to be the most charitable answer for such a monumental mistake.
      Since they are now partnered with the OPG in Lambton I wonder what they are using for collateral for financing this time.

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